With National Ice Cream Day just around the corner, Americans are lining up at scoop shops and grocery checkout lines at near-record numbers to get their favorite flavors of ice cream. Recent data provided to the Washington, D.C.-based International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) show hard ice cream production for the first five months of 2021 running ahead of last year, when hard ice cream production set a five-year high with more than 1 billion gallons produced. Through the first six months of 2021, just as the summer season kicked into high gear, retail ice cream sales (grocery) were only slightly behind 2020’s record highs when shoppers couldn’t get enough of America’s frozen treat, IDFA said.
“Ice cream sales set a blazing pace in 2020 and just never let up,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “All in all, 2021 is shaping up to be one of the strongest years on record for ice cream production and sales as the U.S. economy opens up and restaurants and foodservice compete with grocery stores for ice cream sales. Americans love to celebrate National Ice Cream Day every day.”
Ice cream production began its rebound in 2019, according to data from the USDA. That’s when overall dairy consumption in the United States reached an all-time high, led by huge growth in cheese, butter and yogurt, IDFA said.
Since the USDA began tracking per-capita dairy consumption in the 1970s, the trend has continued upward for five straight decades, increasing 21% since 1975. Overall, USDA data show American per-capita dairy consumption across products consistently increasing each year, IDFA said, with 2019 up 6% over the past five years, 10% over the past 15 years, and 16% over the past 30 years.
This year, National Ice Cream Day will be celebrated on Sunday, July 18. The tradition began in 1984 when President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. National Ice Cream Day has been recognized by the president of the United States ever since.
“Everyone knows President Biden is a huge fan of ice cream, and we hope to see him enjoying a cone or dish of his favorite flavor on National Ice Cream Day,” said Dykes. “America’s dairy farmers and dairy foods makers are important to our national economy, and they appreciate the president’s support.”
Each year, IDFA releases data and statistics on ice cream. Here are the latest:
- In 2020, ice cream makers in the United States churned out just over 1 billion gallons of hard ice cream, up 6% from 2019, according to USDA data.
- In the first five months of 2021, hard ice cream production was running 4% ahead of 2020 levels, according to USDA.
- The return of foodservice has stoked ice cream production. Some IDFA members that supply ice cream to the foodservice sector report sustained double-digit growth in 2021.
- Through the first six months of 2021, retail ice cream sales (grocery) continued to flex their muscle and were slightly behind (-2%) the same period from 2020 and well above 2019, according to IRI data.
- From March through May 2021, sales of frozen novelties such as ice cream bars were a whopping 24% ahead of the same period in 2019.
- The average American eats approximately 23 pounds of ice cream each year.
- The United States ranks second in global ice cream consumption only to China — which has 1 billion more people living in its borders.
- Fortune Business Insights estimates the global ice cream market will reach $91.9 billion in 2027, up from $70.9 billion in 2019 — a 30% jump in less than a decade due to the world’s craving for ice cream.
- U.S. ice cream makers contribute $13.1 billion to the U.S. economy and support 28,800 dairy industry jobs, according to IDFA’s Dairy Delivers.
- The majority of U.S. ice cream and frozen desserts are made between March and August. July is the busiest production month for ice cream makers.
- Thomas Jefferson is credited as the first American to write down an ice cream recipe.
IDFA said it partnered with Research America in 2019 to study U.S. ice cream data and trends. Nearly two-thirds of Americans rank vanilla as their favorite ice cream flavor. America’s top 10 favorite ice cream flavors, in order, are:
- Cookies N’ Cream
- Mint Chocolate Chip
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
- Buttered Pecan
- Cookie Dough
- Moose Tracks